Friday, January 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Don't let real vote fraudsters off the hook

If only Tallahassee's Republican leaders paid as much attention to actual voter fraud as to the potential kind. Revelations that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement failed to interview a key witness about fraudulent voter registration applications does nothing to engender trust that the state's top law enforcement agency is above playing politics. Gov. Rick Scott and the rest of the Cabinet, which oversees the FDLE, should send a clear message that they expect better, even when investigations are tied to the Republican Party of Florida.

In the lead-up to the 2012 election, championing the prevention of voter fraud was all the rage in Tallahassee. The Legislature made it harder to run voter registration drives. Scott orchestrated a faulty purge of the voter rolls. They claimed they were protecting the sanctity of the voting booth.

But by September 2012, the real threat was from a voter registration drive operated by a private vendor for the state's Republican Party. Dozens of counties reported suspicious voter registration forms. The party fired the vendor. The FDLE subsequently opened five investigations, including one that emerged when Jeff Jewett, field coordinator in Strategic Allied Consulting's Jacksonville office, discovered one his employees had submitted at least seven bogus registration forms.

Jewett's tip resulted in the employee receiving probation and a sentence of community service, but the FDLE apparently had no desire to look any deeper. As the Tampa Bay Times' Michael Van Sickler reported, Jewett was never contacted by investigators. Another case of 11 fraudulent voter registrations in Fort Myers was closed without any prosecution. Three investigations — in Pensacola, Miami and Tallahassee — remain open.

Scott claimed last year that he embarked on his voter purge because fraud could only be rooted out when the state started looking — never mind that there was no evidence of widespread abuse. Yet when the FDLE had evidence of fraud, it stopped short and failed to interview a key witness. That's not acceptable. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam need to insist that the FDLE take its investigation wherever it leads. Anything less looks like Tallahassee leaders are willing to condone actual voter fraud.

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Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18